Playing The Darker Notes of life with Beatnik Style
I have been playing the darker notes of my personality here and there over the last few months. The brooding, bourbon drinking beatnik examining an existential quandary over the meaning of it all. In soft candle light I wonder about life, love and what does any of it mean? What is it worth? Anything? Like any good beatnik, these moments of playing the darker notes inspire me to write poetry, paint, love and live.
Some of my melodic fairy friends may not understand or appreciate these darker notes as they play notes like that of Bach and Schubert in their life. While a bit of both musical genres, my soul leans toward the syncopated chaos and passion of old jazz, Burlesque and night time drums.
Don't get me wrong, I tearfully appreciate and enjoy when life is played with the glorious precision of Bach's Unaccompanied Cello Suite no. 1 - Prelude. I drink the nectar from these melodic times. I'm humbled by gratitude, lift my face to let the sun kiss me, talk to the ocean and delight in the way laughter and a hug can cure almost anything. However, life does not stay in one place for long. Best to learn to navigate all of the genres it has to offer.
There is a true indulgence in the darkness. Like 100% cacao, single barrel oak soaked bourbon and messy complicated sex, the darker notes of our personality are sacred and can bring new gifts to life.
Recently, I have been wrestling with and old friend - Choice. To truly embrace one's power and grace, a person has to come into right relationship with her/his power to choose. There is always a choice. What to do, say, wear, not do, not say, not wear... it's all about choice.
To me, Choice is illusive, cruel in her neutrality - neither good or bad. I flip the coin of Do-I?-Don't-I? over and over in my mind wishing there was a studio audience that would applaud when I made the "right" choices. But the truth is, there is no right or wrong. Just truth. And no studio audience. Just you.
Over this year, there are choices that I have made that were brave. In alignment with everything I believe to be true and good in the Cosmos. And there were choices that I made that were not. Choices I made to be safe or to be admired by random "others" who didn't really know me.
And then there were the worst choices of the lot - the choices I didn't make. The ones I avoided because I was too ashamed of my truth, or I was afraid to hurt someone else and I just thought it would be easier to bear the burden of being in the limbo land of NO CHOICE, then to bear the burden of being the "bad-gal." And the ones I avoided because I was afraid I wasn't enough of something to handle the outcomes of my choice. These non-choices are the ones I regret most. My fears of wasted time and time running out rear their ugly heads as the dark notes continue to play on.
Regret is a thing that popular spirituality doesn't subscribe to. "Everything happens for a reason." "There is meaning in everything." "There are no accidents." I have said these things and believe them most of the time. However true, when you are playing the darker notes of your personality, this vernacular does not resonate.
When you are playing the darker notes, you must light your soul only by a soft candle - not the harsh examination room flood light.
In this soft light, regret, shame, and heartache can safely exist. Here in the realm of candlelit shadows and drums, there is a profound safety to confront the difficult.
Even in the soft light, a soul with very little range will run like hell back to the Angel's Share and sunshine. As we grow, so does the range of emotion that we can sit with, without judgement. We learn to sit beside our own darkness. And over time we see that the Devil's Cut is a part of a well lived life.
The trick is learning to suck the nectar from these darker moments without falling into an addictive lifetime of brooding, eating only dark chocolate, drinking only bourbon and loving less than loving lovers.
Playing the Darker Notes with Style:
Sit still. When we touch upon shame, guilt, sadness, anger or fear, we often want to fix it. I do. And you can't. You have to sit beside it and be in it until the emotion subsides and the gift is revealed. All of these emotions are brief house guests. Sit still and let them run through your house until they are complete. Playing the darker notes is not a time for doing. It is a time of being.
Do. Not. Judge. It is easy to judge what you have done as bad or good or stupid or non-spiritual. Stop. Really. This distracts you from feeling anything. Stop dead in your tracks when you notice the judgement and say to yourself, "All is forgiven little one. You did the best you could with what you knew then. It is done."
Gratitude for Gifts. There really was a reason for it. Now, that you have processed some of the emotion you are ready to look for the gifts. Maybe you got a few more months of safety. Maybe you got to meet some really hilarious people. Maybe you discovered a new boundary that you do not want to cross any longer. There is always a gift. Always. Hunt for it like a starving beatnik jaguar. If you can't say thank-you-thank-you-thank-you, then keep hunting.
Set a time limit. "For three minutes, hours (days) I am going to indulge in my darkest emotions to see what they have to teach me. Then, I am going to bake cookies and move on." Or, "I'm going to call a friend for lunch so that I can tell them all that I learned and get a hug."
Say Goodbye to the Darker Notes. You can't live in the darkness or light forever. Music needs melody, bass, darkness and light. It is our ability to ebb and flow as gracefully as possible with these elements that make the symphony that becomes our life.
As we learn to play the Darker Notes, we learn that they are really no different from the Lighter Notes. Over time and practice, one can become a Master of the Middle Path where there is no dark or light - only now. Only truth.
Until then, don't be afraid to dance with all that you are - your magnificence, your shame, your glory, divinity and the mundane boring bits. It is all sacred. Good hunting.